Traveling to Russia? Is it Safe?

Unfamiliar places are always going to seem or feel more dangerous. The lack of understanding of what type of vibe a particular street or neighborhood gives off can lead to some uncomfortable moments, even if there is nothing dangerous happening.

That is why it is best to do a bit of research before you travel to learn both about your destination’s culture, as well as what to expect–and perhaps what to avoid–once you are there. In this way, you can reduce any actual threats that may be common where you are heading and minimize any unnecessary stress from the perception of risk.

For travelers going to Russia, there are several factors to keep in mind when considering safety.

The first thing you should be aware of is where in Russia you are planning to visit. As one of the largest and most populous countries on the planet, the idea of safety in Russia will not necessarily be the same from one place to another.

For example, considering safety on the streets of Moscow and in the frigid airs of Siberia will require different approaches. The good news for visitors wanting to experience both of these sides of Russia is that the Russian government has recently made efforts to make it easier.

After a short delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eligible foreigners will soon be able to travel to Russia with a unified eVisa. No longer will you have to apply for individual visas for the specific regions of Russia, making the whole planning portion of a visit much simpler.

However, it is now even more crucial that you do your research and make sure that you are prepared with Russia-specific safety measures to avoid any mishaps while enjoying your vacation. Read on to learn more about staying safe in Russia.


Pickpockets in St. Petersburg and Other Big Cities

The possibility of being a victim of petty crime should always be on the radar of any traveler, no matter their destination. There is a penchant to associate crime with impoverished places, but the reality of the world is that desperate people are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting targets in every city.

One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by planning to outsmart the pickpockets. There are several ways to do that. First and foremost is always going to involve being aware of your surroundings. There are certain places in any city where you are more likely to be a target. For example, crowded transportation hubs can give thieves cover to operate without being noticed because of the sheer number of people in the area. They also know that commuters, particularly tourists, are so focused on catching the correct train or bus that they are likely to let their guard down.

The latest news from St. Petersburg is that there is a new type of pickpocketing scheme that has been devastating both locals and tourists alike.

Due to an incident of terrorism at an airport in 2011, the government decided to implement metal detectors at railway and train stations throughout the country. The thought behind this was that the minor inconvenience would help to ensure a higher level of safety for everyone.

However, thieves saw the new security measures as an opportunity to capitalize on unsuspecting passengers. Since that time, a pattern has developed whereby law-abiding people prepare to go through the metal detector by emptying their pockets of their valuables, removing their jewelry, and leaving them on the tray as they go through the detector.

After being cleared by the security guard on the other side, thousands of people have reported that their items did not make it with them and that they must have been taken in the short period that they were out of sight.

Unless the thief is apprehended immediately, there is nothing the guards or police can do because their responsibility is to ensure the safety of the commuters, not to protect their valuables.

So, for anyone who is looking forward to traveling within Russia via its extensive railway system, be sure to remain vigilant when going through any security protocols.


Remaining Safe Elsewhere in Russia

Besides petty crime, Russian cities are not particularly noteworthy for being dangerous places. Of course, any big city poses challenges, especially if you are unfamiliar with its nuances. However, there is no need to feel more afraid of spending time in Moscow or St. Petersburg than New York or London, or other major Western cities.

Staying aware of your surroundings and double-checking with your hotel staff or other trusted hospitality personnel about whether an area is safe or not (particularly during the night or if you are traveling alone) will go a long way to ensuring an incident-free trip to this wonderful country.

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